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Paisley bears brunt of blame for the Troubles

Trevor Ringland (Write Back, February 14) implies that both Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were equally complicit in fomenting the conflict in the north. Facts suggest otherwise.

Mr Ringland is a serial contributor to a revisionist narrative of the Troubles. The catalyst for what emerged in the north from the 1960s onwards was Ian Paisley and he alone.

Mr Paisley came to prominence over his attacks in the 1960s on Sean Lemass and Jack Lynch at Stormont. His attention turned to demonising Captain Terence O'Neill, who, despite fierce opposition, looked favourably on the introduction of more moderate policies, which included one man one vote for all in the gerrymandered local elections.

Until the unleashing of Paisley's vile sectarian rhetoric and the introduction of loyalist and Orange bigotry, the IRA had been a disarmed irrelevance since the 1950s border campaign.

In 1968, the civil rights movement was asking for full British rights for nationalists within a British state. The demand was for social, not political, change. The leaders of the civil rights movement, John Hume, Austin Currie, Ivan Cooper and Lord Fitt, were beaten into submission by Paisleyites, B Specials, the RUC and loyalists at Burntollet in 1968 for daring to request equal opportunity in housing, employment and voting.

The subsequent proroguing of that bastion of unionist/Orange hegemony, Stormont, the introduction of direct rule, the disbandment of the RUC, B Specials, UDR and the implementation of most of the 175 changes recommended in the Patton Report on policing, which brought about the new PSNI, I submit as substantive evidence of who was primarily responsible for the Troubles.

TOM COOPER

Dublin

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